The side that Cannon grew up watching and supporting as a boy, is also the side with whom he cut his teeth in professional rugby, spending three years in the Saints Academy, but there’s even more to his ties with Wasps’ rivals next week than that.
Cannon, who’s made 20 appearances already in the black and gold shirt this season, is the son of a Northampton Saints legend. His father Vince, also a second row, made a remarkable 438 appearances for the Saints in the ‘70s and ‘80s, captaining the side plenty during his 16 year stint at Franklin’s Gardens.
For James, though, the past is the past.
“They are the side that I watched and supported growing up and I still keep a look out for their results and support the boys I know there,” he said.
“I spent three years in the Academy before getting a contract at Wasps and there were guys alongside me like Alex Waller, Mike Haywood and Jamie Elliot who are all doing really well in their first team now, which is fantastic. My family come and watch me play often and despite Dad’s links with Northampton, they will definitely be cheering for Wasps next week. When you’re playing professional sport it’s easy to put the past behind you.”
“My Dad played a lot an awful lot of games in his career and his body is showing a bit of wear and tear now as a result! Because we play the same position he does like to give me a lot of tips - some are more relevant than others - but he is a supportive father at the end of the day and he’s right behind me.”
Cannon is arguably in his best form since joining the Club in 2010, having formed a strong partnership with Marco Wentzel in recent weeks. With the imminent return of Joe Launchbury and with Tom Palmer also hoping to return from injury soon, he says he cannot rest on his laurels.
“As soon as you think you have done enough, that’s when you stop improving and you find yourself out of the team pretty fast, so you can never think that. We have so many good players vying for a spot in the second row that you can’t rest on your laurels at all. This is the stage of the season that every player wants to be involved in. It’s the business end and for the last few years we haven’t had a great time at the end of the season, but now every player wants to be involved and I am no different.”
With a tough run looming in the form of back to back games with Northampton and Saracens at home before hosting Leinster in a knockout game, Cannon says every match is vital.
“It’s a cliché but there are no easy games and one loss can move you quite a way down the table, so every game is massive starting with Northampton. They are a very good team. If you look over the last few seasons they are always there or thereabouts and they have a good settled squad. We are playing better this year than we have for a while so hopefully now they will get more of a battle from us than they’ve had in recent years because we haven’t beaten them in quite a while.”
“Last week was a week off after an intense period of rugby so it was quite nice to relax and not have to think about rugby for a week. We are back in training now and it’s good to get back and see the boys and get the season going again.”
Cannon adds that the disappointment of the results against Worcester and London Irish have served to sharpen the focus around the ground this week.
“There was huge disappointment after both of those results but it’s important for us to learn from those games. Everything is now focused on correcting the errors we made there and getting it right against Northampton next weekend.”
London Wasps take on Northampton Saints on Saturday, March 23 at Adams Park. If you haven’t already secured your place in the stands, call 0844 225 9555 or click here to be part of it.